THE PRACTICE OF INTERCESSION,
BEHOLDING, WAITING, AND MUSING
Scripture Reading: John 15:7; Eph. 6:18-20; Ezek. 22:30; Psa. 27:4, 14; 104:34
We will now consider intercession, beholding, waiting, and musing in relation to prayer.
We are familiar with the terms intercession, beholding, waiting, and musing. However, with spiritual matters, the most common things are often the most crucial and difficult to achieve. It is often difficult to thoroughly and genuinely fulfill an apparently simple spiritual task. Many Christians know what intercession means, but not many are able to intercede. Many know what it means to wait on God and muse upon Him, but few have truly learned to wait on God and muse on Him. These are very common matters among Christians, but they are also things that are seldom done well. May we all practice not only to enjoy God through reading the Word and prayer but also to intercede, behold, wait, and muse in our prayers.
Let us first consider intercession. Genuine prayers are prayers in which man is mingled with God in spirit. Hence, all genuine prayers are initiated by God. All prayers that are mingled with God are surely initiated by Him. In such prayers, God prays in man, and man prays in God. These prayers involve two levels.
In order to pray in this way, a person must be calm and turn to his spirit. He must learn to drop his own concepts and enter into God. When a person drops his concepts and enters into God, it is easy for him to sympathize with God’s heart, to be concerned for God’s interest, and to live in complete conformity to God’s desires. When this is a person’s condition, the Lord will surely be pleased to open His heart to him, and it will be easy for him to know the Lord’s will. He does not need to exert much effort to touch the Lord’s desire. He merely needs to contact the Lord, and he will know what is of concern to the Lord today.
This is the source of all genuine prayers. When the Lord’s mind becomes ours, we know what He wants, and we begin to care for His desires. Once we care for the Lord’s desires, we will intercede for them. Knowing God’s desire forces us to bear the work of intercession before Him.
Let us consider Abraham’s intercession for Lot. Abraham learned to live before God. He was one who knew God’s desire. When God visited Abraham, He said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” (Gen. 18:17). Since God and Abraham were intimate friends, God opened His heart to him, and He told Abraham that He had come down to look at the condition of Sodom and to judge it. When Abraham heard this, he knew that God’s heart was focused on Lot, who was in Sodom. Although God did not mention Lot by name, the fact that He spoke of the place where Lot was gave Abraham a hint of God’s heart. Abraham knew that God cared for Lot, who was living in the city of Sodom.
As soon as Abraham understood God’s heart, he knew that God needed someone to be one with Him to pray for Lot. Abraham knew that if there was no one on earth to communicate with the God in heaven, God would have no way to communicate His heavenly will to earth. God needed a man on earth who was in touch with Him and in harmony with Him. There was a need for harmony between heaven and earth. In order for God to work on earth, He had to find someone who would echo His heart, who would be concerned for what was on His heart. Abraham was God’s friend; he not only sympathized with God but also was one with Him. Hence, God could confide in Abraham what He was about to do on earth.
As soon as Abraham knew God’s heart, he tarried before God and began his work of intercession. When we read Genesis 18:22-33, we see that every word of Abraham touched God. Abraham reminded God that He is the Judge of all the earth, who needed to act justly, and asked if He could destroy the righteous with the wicked. Abraham did not mention Lot by name, but Lot was one of the righteous ones. Strictly speaking, his prayer was not for Sodom but for Lot who lived in Sodom, in the same way that God’s heart was not on Sodom but on saving Lot who dwelled in Sodom.
When we enjoy God in prayer, we also enter into intercession. When we drop our thoughts and care for God’s inward parts, it is easy for us to know His heart. Once we know His heart, we must call on Him and intercede. In Ephesians 6:18-19 Paul says that we should petition concerning all the saints and, in particular, to petition for him the apostle. Few people can petition concerning all the saints. A person who can petition for God’s church and His servants is one who drops his concepts and ideas, turns to his spirit, and cares for God’s heart. Such a person knows God’s will and can pray for God’s desire. God cares for His church, His saints, and His servants. It is easy for believers who live in their spirit, who have dropped their concepts, and who have God’s mind to touch God’s heart concerning the church, to understand His care for His children and His expectation of His servants. Such persons can intercede and will intercede because God’s Spirit is moving in their spirit and stirring them up to pray for God’s concerns. God is concerned about the church, and they pray for the church. God is concerned about the saints, and they pray for the saints. God cares for His servants, and they pray for God’s servants.
Those who intercede for the church, the saints, and God’s workers can do so because they live in their spirit and touch God. It is difficult for a person who does not live in his spirit and who only hears reports and exhortations to approach God or intercede for others. If he tries to intercede, it will be apart from God. He will become drier and emptier as he prays, and he will not have the assurance that his prayers will be answered. Such intercession is a labor apart from God. It can be compared to Peter’s labor when he went fishing in John 21. His nets were empty even though he labored all night. His labor was in vain.
This is not proper intercession. If we learn to enter into God by dropping our concepts, turning to our spirit, and caring for His desire, we will touch His heart and know His interests. Spontaneously, we will be motivated by God to intercede. Such intercession is solid and touches God. Moreover, we are inwardly fed and established in our faith, and we have the assurance that God has heard our prayer. We have the faith that God will bless the church, the saints, and the workers according to our prayers. These prayers are initiated by God. This is what the Lord meant when He said that if we abide in Him and His word abides in us, whatever we ask will be done for us. Such asking does not originate from us. When we enter the Lord’s presence, live in Him, abide in Him, and touch His heart, we have His desire. Then our asking is fulfilled because it comes out of His desire.
A brother once said that he had been praying for a long time according to the Lord’s promise in John 15:7 of giving us whatever we ask. However, his prayer to graduate from the university, marry a college graduate, and have a wonderful family had not been answered. He could not understand what was wrong and wondered whether the Lord’s word had failed. I asked him to read the verse again. He read, “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” I responded, “We cannot delete the first two clauses from the sentence. First we abide in Him and His words abide in us. Then we ask, and it is done for us. You would not have such desires if you learned to abide in Him, and His words were in you. Rather, you would know God’s heart. His will would be your will, and His desire would be your desire. Then whatever you asked would be done for you.”
Many of our prayers are not the issue of abiding in Him. We pray according to our concepts and desires. These prayers do not touch God and are not answered. In order for our prayers to touch God and receive answers, they cannot be initiated by us. We must first be mingled with God and allow Him to initiate and motivate our prayers. Only these kinds of prayers are worthwhile and receive answers.
In the Old Testament God wanted to bless the Israelites and to perform wonderful works among them. Yet He could not find one person to pray for this. Then He spoke using an illustration of the need for someone to stand in the breach of the wall. However, He could not find anyone (Ezek. 22:30). To stand in the breach is to be one who touches God’s heart, lives in God, cares for God’s desire, and prays accordingly.
In this verse God could not find anyone on the earth who would stand on the earth for this. There was no one who would be joined to Him and echo His heart by praying for what concerned Him. Consequently, He had no choice but to give up on the nation of Israel. He could not find anyone who would echo His heart, anyone who would learn to live in Him, to care for His desire, or to respond to His desire and call on Him to do something on earth. As such, He could only sigh in resignation in heaven.
There were probably many people praying at that time, but their prayers did not touch God. They lived outside of God and did not touch His heart. In the same way many believers pray outside of God, and their prayers do not count in the eyes of God. They have not learned to turn to their spirit or to enter into God. They have not learned to drop their concepts and care for God’s desire. They have not touched God’s heart or allowed God to initiate their prayers. As a result, their prayers, whether they are for themselves, for others, for the church, or for the work, are all outside of God. Since their prayers are initiated by themselves, God does not pray in their prayers, He is not mingled with them, and He does not respond to their prayers. These prayers do not touch God or reach God, and they do not receive many answers or see much result.
If we want to learn the work of intercession, we must learn to turn to our spirit, enter into God, drop our concepts, and care for God’s heart. When we do this, spontaneously He will show us His desire, and He will motivate us to pray. The more we pray this way, the more we will touch God’s heart. We will touch God and be filled, and something solid will remain in us. After we pray this way, we will have the faith and the deep assurance that our prayers have been answered. Intercession is fully a matter of being in the spirit.
We will now consider beholding God, waiting on God, and musing on God. Some brothers and sisters consider these to be difficult exercises. The key is being in our spirit. As long as we are in our spirit, these are easy. If we are not in the spirit, they are difficult.